THE LION, THE WITCH & THE WARDROBE
When it was made, this version of The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe came out amidst an interest in fantasy that had been sparked by the success of Star Wars (1977). A number of classic fantasy stories were adapted during this period Rankin-Basss productions of The Hobbit (1977) and The Last Unicorn (1982), Ralph Bakshis The Lord of the Rings (1978) and the live-action likes of Excalibur (1981) and Conan the Barbarian (1982).
Of all the different versions of the book the tv series The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1967), which is the one prior adaptation that has yet to be revived; this; The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe (1988) that came as part of the BBCs tv adaptations of the first four Narnia books; and the 2005 film this is arguably the most faithful to the C.S. Lewis book. The one noticeable difference is that this adaptation doesnt keep the 1940s Wartime period that all the other versions of the story do the kids all wear modern dress. Though the professor does appear and we get his oddball speculations about the actuality of Narnia, there is nothing explained of how the children came to be living in the big house and where their parents are. The upshot of this is that it leaves the real world scenes existing in a vacuum oddly free of explanation. There is also the removal of the character of Father Christmas, where the gifts that he gives the children are instead handed out by Aslan.
The main problem is that despite the faithfulness with which the story is told, the crude level of the animation renders the story akin to seeing a Shakespearean play being put on by five year-olds. Everything is depicted with plain line-drawn faces even the employment of cartoony sound effects. This results in an exceedingly simplistic rendering of the story. Despite the primitiveness of the animation, the film manages to convey a reasonable degree of subtlety and nuance to the writing. Some scenes do manage to be exciting particularly the ones where the White Witch pursues the party across the land. The finest sequence is the sacrifice of Aslan the scenes with Aslan (who is about four times the size of a real lion) walking off with Lucy and Susan and the White Witchs humiliations and the girls grief over the dead body have a sobering sadness that is far more adult that one expected such as a scene would be in the circumstances. On the other hand, the crudeness of the animation kills a number of aspects the wolf Maugrim looks far too cute to be any kind of menacing heavy, while the various species that the White Witch raises to go to war all have big goofy cartoon eyes, which seriously undermines any threat. The climactic battle scenes in particular come out crying to be delivered on a far more lavish scale.
The voicing is competent. Despite being mostly an American production, the film makes the point of obtaining English accents for all the kids. The one drawback with the voicing a major problem also with the same equivalent performance in the 1988 BBC adaptation is that the role of the White Witch is badly overacted with the voicing given by Beth Porter coming in fruity shrill quavers.
The Narnia books were subsequently filmed by the BBC as three mini-series The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, & the Wardrobe (1988), The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (1989), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1989) and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair (1990). The book was later remade on the big screen as the big-budget The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), the first in a series of planned Narnia films and was followed by The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008) and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010).
Full film available online here:-